Wozniacki on Course

Under an unforgiving Dubai sun on Tuesday, top stars were made to sweat at the Dubai Tennis Championships. None felt the heat more than Serbian poster girl Jelena Jankovic.

By Rituraj Borkakoty

Published: Wed 17 Feb 2010, 12:10 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 8:53 AM

Frenchwoman Aravane Rezai gave the Serb a mighty scare before going down 6-4 4-6 5-7 in an absorbing contest that lasted more than two hours.

In another late match, American Venus Williams defeated Sabine Lisicki of Germany 6-2 6-3 to enter the third round.

The 22-year-old Rezzai gave her all, but Jankovic, the sixth seed and world number eight, finally managed to break her in the 12th game of the decider.

Earlier, Caroline Wozniacki, the US Open runner-up and world number three, did win her second round match in straight sets against Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia (6-2 7-6).

But the feisty Cibulkova (world number 30) stunned Wozniacki by taking a 5-1 lead in the second set. It was then that the Dane showed her ability to fight back, breaking her rival twice to force a tiebreak, which she convincingly won at 7-2.

Unlike Jankovic and Wozniacki, China’s Li Na, the eight seed and world number 10, had the luxury of playing the evening match. And yet she struggled to tame her Spanish rival, Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez.

At one stage, it seemed that the Australian Open semifinalist would become the biggest casualty of the championships when she went down 0-3 in the third set. But the Chinese staged a grand comeback and eventually won 7-6 2-6 6-4 to reach the third round.

In the morning match, last year’s runner-up Virginie Razzano (world number 24) of France suffered a heartbreaking 6-2 6-2 defeat against Shahar Peer of Israel. Razzano had no answer to Peer’s aggressive style.

In the third round, Peer, the world number 22, will take on top seed Wozniacki, who, after her tough second encounter, said she was prepared to face another difficult challenge against the Israeli.

“Shahar is my next opponent. She’s a great player. I played her in Australia. She’s a fighter. She is playing really well at the moment, so it’s going to be another tough match,” said Wozniacki after surviving the tricky second round match. Yeah, today also it was difficult. Especially in the second set, she (Dominika) was running well, getting a lot of balls back, so I knew it was going to be a tough match.

She is a fighter. In the second set, I just kept fighting. Even though I was down 5-1, I kept playing for every point, and that paid off in the end.”

It was strange, but the Dane actually became more aggressive when the Slovak threatened to take the match to third set. “Yeah, I was playing much better once I was down 5-1. I just started to get my rhythm. I thought maybe I was going to play the third set, so I thought I just need to start playing more aggressively. I thought that’s the way I have to play in case of a third set. But I didn’t have to, so I was really happy about that (smiling).”

Wozniacki though refused to blame the Dubai sun for her struggles in the second set. “I mean, it was hot, but it’s warm for both of us. So I don’t mind.”

The world number three believes the tough match may actually help her as the tournament progresses. “I hope so. Definitely wining a tough match helps. It’s always difficult to come in and play your first match. I learned from today. Hopefully tomorrow can be even better.”

While the top seed had to fight for her win, second seed Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia didn’t even have to play her second round match as her opponent Anabel Medina Garriguess of Spain pulled out with an injury.

Fourth seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus too advanced without any difficulty as her rival Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine retired due to a knee injury. Azarenka was leading 4-1.

Earlier, world number 13 Marion Bartoli of France easily won her second round match against Alexandra Dulgheru of Romania 6-2 6-1. In another match, Olga Govortsova of Belarus defeated Italy’s Francesca Schiavone 6-4 6-4, while 10th seed Flavia Pennetta also entered the third round with a fine 6-3 6-3 victory over Germany’s Andrea Petkovic. Russia’s Vera Zvonareva, the 12th seed, was at her best as she demolished Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens 6-0 6-0.

In a match between qualifiers, Germany’s Anna-lena Groenefeld beat veteran Aussie Alicia Molik 6-4 6-4.

In doubles, India’s Sania Mirza and Spain’s Virginia Ruano Pascual of Spain lost to Taipei’s Yung-Jan Chan and Jie Zheng of China 6-3 6-3.

Email: rituraj@khaleejtimes.com

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